natural phenomena

7 WTF Natural Phenomena Around The World That Will Leave You Stunned!

Nancy B. Varghese

Travel Writer

Earth plays host to a multitude of strange occurrences that have boggled mankind. From the fiery gates of Hell in Turkmenistan to the sailing rocks in California that eerily move by themselves across kilometers, here are some of the most beautiful and bizarre natural occurrences that you need to head to immediately, to believe your own eyes when you see them! Each of these will certainly make for a unique holiday experience.

1. Snow chimneys


1 natural phenomena - snow chimney mt erebus


Spotted at: Mount Erebus, Antarctica


What it looks like: Jon and Dany’s perfect honeymoon spot; after all it seems to have both ice and fire!


What it really is:  An active volcano located on Ross Island in Antarctica. Heat and gases from the pits of the volcano come up through the snow covered surface. The mountain has several ice fumaroles, which are ice towers created around gases that escape from vents on the surface.


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2. Sailing stones


2 natural phenomena - sailing stones california


Spotted at: Death Valley National Park, California


What it looks like: Rocks moving along valley floors all by themselves without human or animal intervention. Straight out of supernatural thrillers!


What it really is:  When massive ice sheets floating in a winter pond break up during sunny days, it makes the rocks move. These  floating ice panels are driven by light winds and push rocks at up to 5 metres per minute.

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3. Flammable ice bubbles


3 natural phenomena - frozen methane bubbles


Spotted at: Abraham Lake, Canada


What it looks like: Columns of spherical blocks of ice frozen under the surface of a river during extremely low temperatures


What it really is: Frozen bubbles of methane, an immensely flammable gas, trapped beneath the surface, formed by bacteria that feed on dead organic matter that sinks to the bottom of the water. Methane transforms into white floating blobs when it touches  water, but you best be careful if one of those happen to pop and explode when the ice melts and if you have a match lit anywhere around!


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4. Lake of Salt Statues

4 natural phenomena - lake natron tanzania


Source: Nick Brandt


Spotted at: Lake Natron, Tanzania


What it looks like: The eerie purgatory between the living and the dead where life forms die and decay.


What it really is: The extremely salty lake, where the temperatures can reach up to 60 degrees celsius, has alkaline levels between pH 9 and pH 10.5 as well as a compound of sodium carbonate. The lake is uninhabitable to most life forms, except for small fish adapted to the harsh conditions, and the ones that do fall into the water, die and their bodies are calcified.


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5. Frost flowers


5 natural phenomena - frost flowers


Spotted at: Arctic


What it looks like: Pretty tufts of white flowers blooming daintily on the surface of the water, much like Elsa’s winter wonderland, for all Disney fans out there.

What it really is: When the atmosphere is much colder than the ice down under, it leads to rapid formation of ice and that is how sea ice frost flowers are formed. These flowers have a tendency to grow in numbers and spread in dense concentration. They can also occur on land.


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6. Doorway to Hell


6 natural phenomenon - doorway to hell turkmenistan


Spotted at: Turkmenistan


What it looks like: The entrance to the portal through which the souls of the damned are to be tortured for eternity and beyond.


What it really is: When a natural gas field in Turkmenistan broke away and crumpled into a huge cavern, a natural gas crater was formed which has now become a popular tourist attraction known as ‘Gates of Hell’. In order to prevent the spread of methane gas, geologists set the crater in fire in 1971 and it has been burning since then, for over four decades!


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7. Light pillars


7 natural phenomena - light pillars


Spotted at: Canada, New York, Russia, and several places around the world


What it looks like: Orchestrated UFO and alien abduction that’s planning a detailed doomsday for planet Earth, right out of an episode of the X-Files.


What it really is: These bands of light that seem to extend above a light source are nothing but the patterns of reflected light from ice crystals in the clouds or the atmosphere. When the source of reflected light comes from the sun (when it is anywhere near the horizon), it’s called a solar pillar. The light can also occur from the moon or other sources such as streetlights.


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Images: Imgur, Shutterstock

Published on Sep 10, 2017
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